Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Physicists lead the field in solving matter mystery of the Big Bang

10.12.2003


A University of Sussex-led team of scientists is ahead in the race to solve one of the biggest mysteries of our physical world: why the Universe contains matter.



With the help of a new £2.3 million grant, the team is working on a project to make one of the most sensitive measurements ever of sub-atomic particles. The results, expected within six years, could finally help to explain the creation of matter in the aftermath of the Big Bang.

Physicist Dr Philip Harris, the leader of the Sussex group, says: “Although there are a couple of other teams in the world working in this same area, we’re managing to stay ahead of them, and we are constantly striving to beat our own world record. This is all very exciting for us. With this new development, we are on the verge of a major breakthrough in our understanding of the very origin of matter in the Universe.”


The question that has vexed scientists and astronomers for years is why there is more matter in the Universe than anti-matter. Both were formed at the time of the Big Bang, about 13.7 billion years ago. For every particle formed, an anti-particle should also have been formed. Almost immediately, however, the equal numbers of particles and anti-particles would have annihilated each other, leaving nothing but light. But a tiny asymmetry in the laws of nature resulted in a little matter being left over, spread thinly within the empty space of the Universe. This became the stars and planets that we see around us today.

The only way scientists can verify their theories to explain this anomaly is to study the corresponding asymmetry in sub-atomic particles. It has taken five decades of research to reach the stage where measurements of these particles, called neutrons, have become sensitive enough to test the very best candidate theories. Neutrons are electrically neutral, but they have positive and negative charges moving around inside them. If the centres of gravity of these charges aren’t in the same place, it would result in one end of the neutron being slightly positive, and the other slightly negative. This is called an electric dipole moment and is the phenomenon that physicists have been working to find for the past 50 years.

Using a £2.3 million grant from the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, the Sussex scientists are collaborating with physicists at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the Universities of Oxford and Kure (in Japan) to develop a new apparatus to measure the electric dipole moment.

The apparatus is a type of atomic clock that uses spinning neutrons instead of atoms. It will apply 300,000 volts to a container storing neutrons in a bath of liquid helium, which is kept at a temperature just above absolute zero. The clock frequency will be measured through nuclear magnetic resonance. Once completed, the apparatus is predicted to be one hundred times more sensitive than its predecessor.

Jacqui Bealing | alfa
Further information:
http://www.sussex.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht The taming of the light screw
22.03.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

nachricht Magnetic micro-boats
21.03.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Polymerforschung

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The taming of the light screw

DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.

The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...

Im Focus: Magnetic micro-boats

Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.

The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...

Im Focus: Self-healing coating made of corn starch makes small scratches disappear through heat

Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.

Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bacteria may travel thousands of miles through the air globally

25.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Key evidence associating hydrophobicity with effective acid catalysis

25.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Drug diversity in bacteria

25.03.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>